I recently read “Cloud Cuckoo Land” by Anthony Doerr. Doerr also wrote Pulitzer winner “All the Light we Cannot See”. These books are very different from one another in tone, genre, storytelling, etc. I thought both of these books were brilliant. I think Doerr is an exceptional author.

I know people who have read both of these books. Some are like me and thought both books were great. More people I know, however, didn’t appreciate Cuckoo as much. They were disappointed that it wasn’t like All the Light. They assumed the new book would be written the same way as the old book. They were disappointed in Doerr.

Do we, as readers, have the right to have expectations of an author?

Take me, for example. I wrote a post a few months ago. One person commented that it wasn’t “fun” and they read me to have “fun”. They were basically disappointed in me because I tried something different on my blog.

Do I, as a blogger, owe you, the reader of my blog, anything?

Do you expect me to write the same thing every day, in the same way?

Or do you accept that my writing and my blogs will evolve over time, as I evolve over time?

Do I owe you anything?

I hope that my writing is slightly different every day, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. My hope is that I am consistently learning, and consistently growing. I hope my posts are different that they were last week, last month, last year, ad infinitum. I will be very sad if you tell me that my posts are the same- that you can assume the next words that I pen every time you read my posts…

I also need to occasionally visit the other side of the box. I did bloganuary to try something different- to see what it’s like writing from prompts. FYI- I don’t think it’s blogging- I think it’s answering questions and those are two very different things. I’m also working on a side project with another blogger that will take over my first Friday’s of the month.

Sometimes you need to try something new.

If fact, I think everyone should try something new every day when it’s possible. With writing, it’s possible to expand a little every single post…

But to the original question:

Do you have expectations of the writers that you read?

Do you see how I compared myself to a Pulitzer winner?

84 thoughts on “What do you owe?

  1. Writing is a creative process and great fiction is an art. An artist owes nothing to his audience. They need to listen only to their inner creative spirit. That is where new ideas are sparked. As for your comparison to a Pulitzer Prize winner – well done. 😉 I blog for me and I am thrilled when readers come along for the ride. I wouldn’t adjust my content due to a few folks. My blog, my rules. If that offends someone, then they can just move along and I wish them well.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I think it can be good to change things up at times. I thought of an example as I read this.
    I was playing a Blackmore’s Night CD last evening. I love their music! My husband commented at how he still can’t get over the way some fans od Richie Blackmore responded to the style of music he is doing now. He was in a rock band before. Blackmore’s night is definitely not rock! So fans were writing at how disappointed they are in him and just other scathing remarks. Ridiculous! He should be able.to do what he wants to do, he tried a new style and has had great success with it!
    We as writers, musicians, artists do have.a responsiblility to come out with quality material BUT we don’t have to feel that we are put in a box.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Exactly and it is totally his choice.
        I also thought of the example of “To Kill a Mockingbird” I loved that book, it’s a classic. When “Go Set a Watchman” came out, I was excited and then I was disappointed! I was expecting it to be as good as “To Kill a Mockingbird” but in my opinion it wasn’t. Though when I stepped back and didn’t try to compare the two I enjoyed it more.
        Even my favorite authors, favorite bloggers are going to write things that I may not enjoy as much but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. I agree! My husband was just dumbfounded. We chalk it up to immature fans
        Blackmore’s Night has been around for awhile now so fortunately the remarks didn’t stop him! They are more popular in Europe. They are sooo good!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m with the group so far. I also know that some readers decide to claim ownership over social media interactions and feel obliged to point out/question things that go against their ideal of normal. BTW, your “interview” post was great!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. It’s good to mix it up! I’m all for experimentation. That’s how we grow at anything. That said, it’s good to have a more consistent style as well. Many readers are bound to have certain expectations – whether deserved or not. I find for every disappointed reader there are many more who appreciate the change in pace once in a while.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t find your writing or blog predictable at all, and I consider that a good thing. Regardless, I do look forward to your weekly inspiration post. You experiment with the whole idea being to try on something different to see how it fits and feels. For an author to experiment WITHIN an established cozy mystery series is not something I would like, but for an author to vary styles, genres, etc. from one standalone book to another demonstrates creativity and originality.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Good questions. I think daily blog writing evolves as a person does. I love your blog because I can relate to so much. I think creativity is the key. You have a way of creatively writing about different avenues in your life. You have a way to keep my interest, you don’t just say I woke up today and got out of bed. I don’t think you owe the reader anything as each person can take away what they personally get from the writings.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. When I was in undergrad, Tony Doerr was a grad student there. One of my best friends was a creative writing major, so I frequently went to readings from people in the program. Tony Doerr is a funny, nice man who is an amazing speaker. He’s also super smart and immerses himself in research and I’m just so happy for him for all his success. I’m also super proud that my alma mater can call him an alum.

    I think people do have expectations because reading a book (or an article or a blog post) is a time commitment and it’s not a great feeling if you waste some of your precious time on this planet to something that doesn’t resonate the way you want it to. On the other hand, it’s hard to be too disappointed because we want art to be challenging and unique and we don’t want our artists literally just putting out the same thing over and over again, do we?

    Liked by 3 people

  8. This is something I was thinking about the other day. I was in a bookstore when I noticed an author I used to love, and her most recent book looked to be a romance novel. The first thought in my head was, “she’s selling out.” Gah.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. That’s a great question/point. I know there are several genres (or maybe styles?) I want to take a crack at. Most are nonfiction but I may even stretch to fiction at some point, like many of the bloggers I follow. Actually, responding to the interview prompt, if I ever get to it, might be a good place to give that a try!
        Do you have expectations of the writers that you read? I try not to but really just can’t help comparing. In the long run and in the end, I try to give every author, of whatever genre or style, the benefit of the doubt. If I want to “spread my wings” and “branch out”, I don’t see why they can’t, too.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. That is, like always, such a good question. I like to see people switch it up. If you switched it up any way I believe your posts would still be high quality.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Mea Culpa, LA…you were right I was wrong. You are a blogger. Where I’m a poster. By that I mean you write damn near daily for engagement, where I post less often to build a portfolio. I’m specific subject driven; a poem, short fiction, politics, brief bio back stories; all stand alone pieces.

    You compose conversational, in the now, slice of life, this then that happened and so what to ya think….you saddle up a reading posses to chase down call and response possibilities. And you do it well, and a collective platform based on engagement favors your approach.

    The down side of it is, as readers fell more comfortable, more of the same but just slightly different, becomes increasing more difficult to master, and the collective pats on the back can begin to rub some the wrong way.

    and you’ll find yourself wishing, even more than your are now, for readers who dare to disagree.

    Watching you build this post LA, has broadened my understandings of current social media trends and tactics, platform positioning, and best practices for moving forward.

    Continue success LA, and fixed that damn text widget on you real site. I mention it about five years ago. And your Miss Marple interview was world class.

    regards,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I need to figure out text widget. I may email you to help. Thank you btw….for all this. I do want people to disagree…but I want it to be of substance not character, if you get what I mean…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. The question of blog “branding” is timely for me. I know from a marketing perspective I am supposed to define my “brand” on social media, including my blog, and keep all content consistent with that brand. I don’t do that. My blog posts range from funny articles about vibrating underwear to serious posts about attempted suicide — and a little of everything in between. I’m fine with defying expectations, though.
    I always enjoy your varied posts and ponderings, LA. I expect I’ll continue to.😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s funny because when I started my blog I really thought it was going to be all about aging, and then I realized I didn’t want to dwell on aging, just talk about things from a viewpoint of a woman with some seasoning….

      Like

  12. With some authors you really can expect it to be the same – I imagine it’s the same with bloggers. And, indeed, my comfort reads are very similar in tone, content and structure. But with the literary fiction, I don’t have the same expectations. I have high hopes for quality, but that’s it.

    Here, the only thing that’s the same is you will turn up daily (or let us know if you’re not going to) and you will ask us to think.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. There are reasons why some authors choose to write under different pen names depending on different types of writing. Whether we like it or not, when someone writes something that you like, the reason they will go back for another book is because they expect something similar. Yes, some authors can pull off writing a variety of styles or genres under a single name, but they will find that they won’t be able to please all of their fans by doing that. It is also one of the reasons why you will see different publishers for the same author.

    Blogs are a different beast when it comes to expectations. They are more personal and more prone to changes or variety. I think there is also less expectation because it, normally, isn’t an experience that is paid for, so it doesn’t matter as much if some expectations aren’t always met.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Keep writing what you wish. One reason that I write is that it’s therapeutic for me. I posted one of my nursing stories once and I remember several readers who didn’t like it because it was sad. One told me that they wished they had never read it. Well, sorry folks not all stories have happy endings 😁

    Liked by 4 people

    1. See? I don’t understand why someone would say that to you. We need to write how we feel…and sometimes we need to express sad things. Your words are always beautiful…and they make you feel. That’s what I want from a writer when I’m reading

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Wow ! Thanks so much! You just made my day ❤ That’s exactly what I want too. Your blog always makes me think and feel about things in a different light. Broadens my perspective. I love it!

        Liked by 2 people

  15. We owe each other Respect. Beyond that, it is your blog your choice of subject matter and format. You could say you owe us a timely post, opposed to let’s say 5 posts today and no more until Friday. One of the reasons I read you is the subject matter, I enjoy the topics and the banter. Honestly, I do not read your weekend stuff – not my thing. But that is OK, I still look for your daily posts (M-S) and if the subject is not interesting to me, no biggie. I didn’t get upset when you do your occasional format changes to try something new. I don’t you owe me the same thing every day and I would rather you not publish the same thing. There are people who like a particular style and that is all they want, like a pepperoni pizza, don’t add mushrooms or just plain cheese. They’ll complain. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. We do this with all artists, right? I listen to a lot of rap music, and fans tend to get their panties in a bunch when rappers grow up and start talking about things, other than sex, drugs, etc. I definitely think we should allow one another to grow and not hold specific expectations of artists in any way. It’s also okay to be disappointed in someone’s work.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Kathy, so true. And people are fickle anyway . You can’t worry about pleasing everyone. I’m not sure if you will “get” my musical reference of this, because of our age difference, but it is a great example of the public not getting or appreciating an artistS need to grow. When I was 16 my bff and I had tickets to see Bob Dylan in concert ( In Ft. Lauderdale).
      This was a new tour and many people canceled their reservations because the second half of his concert he was for the first time, using a rock band and he had an electric guitar. Folk purists protested because he was emerging from folk to more contemporary rock music. That how my friend and I were able to snag such great seats. Dylan fans were angry that he had the audacity to switch up his music. It was crazy. Now, keep in mind, at 16 I played a folk guitar and then my friends and I went electric too so I wasn’t bothered by Dylan’s attempt to switch things up. If you love music, you appreciate everything. One day I would listen to classical, the next it might be heavy metal. I embrace it all. And Dylan has always been a word guy anyway. He’s always been about words first, his musical arrangement next which can be anything because it’s his words that tell the story. But it took most Dylan fans years to get over the fact that nobody could keep this creative artist in a box. They didn’t understand that Creativity can’t be limited. It has got to expand and grow. Otherwise it shrivels up and dies.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I totally get the reference Lesley. My childhood best friend was a Jewish girl, raised by hella liberal parents in the hood, about eight blocks away from me. They introduced me to folk songs (Peter, Paul, and Mary, This Land is Your Land, etc., etc., etc.), so I get it 😉

        And I agree about creativity. It seems we’re so bent on putting people in boxes, that we tend to forget that creativity is about flow. Anything else is stagnation, and as you’ve said, shrivels up and dies!

        Liked by 2 people

  17. Many people become attached to an author’s genre and have high expectations especially after a successful book. In some ways that’s a bit sad considering it quells the ability to be prolific in style, genre, writing. And could perhaps become boring for the author. What if you as an author you were strongly knowledgeable and had a much wider frame of reference from which to choose your subject matter? Would the expectations placed on you by your audience preclude you from writing on other topics? I’m not an author, but as a blogger I prefer to write what comes from the heart. And I have no expectations of anyone else’s writing.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I enjoy your posts, but I don’t expect them all to sound alike. As long as we are alive, we should find new things to write about and new ways to present them. A reader should never tie up an author, demanding the same thing all the time.

    That said, I was surprised to find my writing style seems to have stayed the same. The letters I wrote from England 40 years ago could have been written last year. I haven’t grown at all!!!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you. Isn’t it marvelous fun to write and to read and comment on the writings of others? My local friends are mostly non-writers. You move to a different area of the country, and you lose them.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I can’t fathom people expecting each book by a certain author to be like the last unless it’s a sequel. What’s the point of that? I want each reading experience to be unique and fresh (like your blog!).

    Trying new things and expanding our repertoire is how we learn, grow, and dare I say, become more relevant to others by helping them expand their awareness. Some people have no interest in personal growth, I suppose.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I did not like the All the Light book at all….but then I felt the same about that Goldfinch book that everyone raved about. I finished it but from my recollection it dragged on and on and I just could not see the point of it, so I had no interest in his new book. I think an author has the prerogative to change style/genre etc, as they’re the ones doing all the work, so they should write what they like.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I just saw this post today so I’m late in a response. Nope. You don’t owe your readers anything . It’s your decision on what you put in your blog. It’s all up to you. Perhaps warnings if it’s somewhat offensive. But, it’s your blog, your decision on its content . I love that venture out into varying comfort zones. Go for it. We all have our own reasons for blogging. You do YOU.

    I actually REMEMBER reading that person who said a particular blog of yours wasn’t fun. And I recall thinking, does this person seriously think that people write just for her? Talk about being self absorbed! What a crazy comment.

    Have fun, write when you want about what you want. It’s your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought it was the most bizarre criticism about any of my posts….there’s a lot that I expect people to dislike, but that post and that comment were just bizarre to me!

      Liked by 1 person

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